June 1st, 2012
02:30 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney smiles at Clinton compliment

(CNN) – Mitt Romney on Friday embraced a comment made by Bill Clinton the previous night, in which the former president praised Romney's private equity career, despite a recent flood of Democratic attacks against the presumptive nominee's corporate resume.

Romney defended his former firm, Bain Capital, on Friday and pointed to its record of successful investments compared to its small minority of buyouts that later went bankrupt.

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"I think Bain Capital has a good and solid record," Romney said in a CNBC interview. "I was happy to see President Clinton made a similar statement today and called my record superb."

The former president, however, used the word "sterling" to describe Romney's business career instead when he discussed the candidate in an interview on CNN Thursday.

"The man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold," Clinton said on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

The comment raised eyebrows among many Democrats, who have been highly critical of Romney's business experience over recent weeks.

"I don't think that we ought to get into the position where we say 'This is bad work. This is good work,'" Clinton continued.

He later added: "I think the real issue ought to be, what has Governor Romney advocated in the campaign that he will do as president? What has President Obama done and what does he propose to do? How do these things stack up against each other?"

While Republicans have since seized on the comments, using them to counter recent Democratic attacks, the White House brushed off Clinton's remarks on Friday. A spokesman told reporters aboard Air Force One that he didn't see any news in the remarks.

And the president's re-election team also glossed over the remarks, focusing instead on one line where Clinton described the tactics some private equity investors use.

"Invest in a company, run up the debt & force people to lose their retirement and fire them," a senior campaign official pointed out in paraphrase.

However, Clinton was making a comparison of two kinds of investors. Those who buy, strip and destroy companies for profit, and others also driven by profit, but with the goal of making the companies better, even though they too can fail with equal consequences.

Also see:

Obama campaign launches assault on Romney's Massachusetts record

Obama campaign releases third set of Spanish ads

Gonzales says Romney must make personal connection to Hispanics

Wisconsin guv up in third straight poll


Filed under: 2012 • Bill Clinton • Mitt Romney
soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. Jay

    Stealing working people pension, and shipping their jobs overseas can make a person very rich.

    June 1, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  2. tempemom

    I get the feeling that people who are not too far left or too far right, politically, are open to a change of direction. But they are not seeing or hearing any solid economic plans from Romney.

    June 1, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. CalmerVoice

    Americans are unhappy with a successful business guy? Is anybody surprised or what? Yea, we need a welfare state where the private enterprise is discouraged...You wouldn't even blink & lose all freedoms if the right to create a successful business gets revoked, so wake up.

    June 1, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  4. pat9

    Now this one made me really sad. Private equity has its place in a healthy economy but not to run it. Obama is right. Being president is not about maximizing profits. Bill Clinton had potential and wasted it. Now he is making everything worse by wading into something he no longer has a right to . . . It was Bill who agreed to the elimination of Glass Steagal. That was a huge mistake. Why should he, or Greenspan, or anyone who played a role in this terrible economic disaster now feel that they can speak without shame. And I was one of his supporters. NO more

    June 1, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  5. Tony

    Bill Clinton says after the 'controversial comment, "I think the real issue ought to be, what has Governor Romney advocated in the campaign that he will do as president? What has President Obama done and what does he propose to do? How do these things stack up against each other"

    Why isnt this sentence the focus of this article?!?!?!?!

    June 1, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  6. Walter

    Yet another Democrat saying something nice about Romney. Haven't these people gone through the DNC hypnosis program which leaves you incapable of saying anything positive about those pesky Republicans?

    June 1, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  7. Sick of Politics as Usual

    Obama has been president for nearly 4 years, and the economy has not appreciably improved. Mitt Romney was a successful businessman, and that's great, but that's not the same thing as being a successful governor. How successful was he at creating jobs in Massachusetts? Not that successful.

    Why are we looking at these two guys to solve all our problems? I'd like to suggest an alternative. Governor Gary Johnson, Libertarian POTUS candidate. He turned a deficit in New Mexico to a billion dollar surplus and the economy thrived.

    June 1, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  8. itscion

    Nice to see Clinton trying to bring reality and maturity to politics. Thank you Bill. All of the BS lies will hopefully stop now so we can focus on the issues. That is what it is about.

    June 1, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  9. S. Washington

    Not really Hail Clinton.

    June 1, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  10. wd40fan

    translation: Hillary in 2016?

    June 1, 2012 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  11. ronireports

    Bill Clinton is still in the mix!

    June 1, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  12. valwayne

    LOL! Even Bill Clinton, whom Obama went after as a racist to beat his wife, thinks, like Mayor Booker, that Obama's attacks on Gov Romney and American Business are NAUSEATING! After todays horrifying jobs report with UNEMPLOYMENT leaping to 8.2% and showing that Obama's policies and Presidency have failed totally, it seems like even democrats have decided that our nation can't survive 4 more years of Obama and his failed anti-business policies!

    June 1, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  13. Blue

    Bill, it is time for you to shut up. Yoy know what President Obama has been thriough and still created jobs. Mitt has destroyed many lives with his take over of businesses. Ask Mitt h9ow he made so much money? He raided the poor to filll his own pockets.

    June 1, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  14. Reefer Power

    I have to agree with President Clinton that Governor Romney had a sterling career and has the qualities and attributes to be President.

    There is only so much abuse at the hands of the Obama administration that tax payers can reasonably be subjected to.

    The revelations of crony capitalism in doling out loans to family and friends on a preferential basis is really the anti-thesis of meritocracy and fundamentally at odds with the "different kind of politics" that was promised in 2008.

    Voters were told they would get the second coming of Abe Lincoln, instead they got Jimmy Carter's permanently grinning twin.

    June 2, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  15. arm

    Bill knows that Mitt will do a better job

    June 2, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  16. Michael of Michigan

    Someone please explain to me how running a business (which is composed of EMPLOYEES) qualifies you to run a country (which is composed of PEOPLE). The sole purpose of a business is to generate a profit. It is NOT to generate jobs, don't BS yourselves. Theres is no such thing as a 'job creator'. A business will never hire employees unless it becomes absolutely necessary in order to continue generating profit. Wages, benefits, and other compensation are some of the biggest expenditures for a business, so stop pretending like businesses and business leaders give a squat about you. You cost them money, and you are not worth it unless you bring them more money than you cost.

    June 2, 2012 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  17. john

    helsea did work for Avenue Capital Group in 2006 for a couple of years – the company is an American investment firm focusing on distressed securities and private equity – Distressed securities are securities of companies or a nation’s central bank that are either already in default, under bankruptcy protection, or in distress and heading toward such a condition. They make money by turning companies around and saving jobs.

    That is not the same as taking over a company, draining it of assets, closing the pension and taking the surplus over the legal minimum that must be paid the PBGC for the minimum benefit guarantee.

    Shipping the work overseas is however common to all corporations – so I suspect, but do not know, that this has happen with a few of their investments.

    The founders of the firm were mid-90′s pioneers in distressed securities – before they entered the field it was a only a case of the value of the assets at auction versus the price of the securities. They added the turn around.

    In contrast to this Mitt founded a firm to take over firms not in distress – running them but if they did not take off then looting them. I am not totally into capitalism as practiced in the US – but this was the gentlest form of corporate rescue investing around.

    June 2, 2012 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  18. Marry

    …sterling business career…???? Meaning money for Romney – and for the rest of us? Not so much! But, that is what Clinton said – there are two ways of doing business...

    June 2, 2012 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  19. Howard

    Bill Clinton ... being very "Presidential."

    Wouldn't it be truly refreshing if all the Presidential candidates were to conduct themselves WHILE they're trying to get (or keep) the job like we will expect them to AFTER they've gotten the job?

    June 2, 2012 04:56 am at 4:56 am |
  20. Roy

    Ask Romney if he is willing to donate all of his $250 million to pay off USA debt but he can keep his $10 million so in that way we can see if he truly cares about our country.

    June 2, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  21. rs1201

    Clinton told the truth...he certainly isn't going to lie for obama, the loser. Our economy is going down...down...and it needs a last flush to totally destroy it...reelecting obama will do that...he doesn't know what to do about the dismal state of our economy except raise taxes...and then squander that money on bogus investments such as Solyndra...535 million dollars down the tubes...where exactly is that money and who's got it...does the govt know what happened to it...has obama asked for an accounting of this taxpayer money...NO...HE HASN'T...THE SOLYNDRA PEOPLE WERE HIS PERSONAL FRIENDS...THAT'S HOW THEY GOT THE MONEY....disgraceful, dishonest, unethical, immoral, and ....MITT ROMNEY 2012

    June 2, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Wow, lots of nonsense from MVI and rest of the Rmoney apologists. And lots of errors in reasoning, though it's probably because of their deliberate intent to derail the topic from the most pertinent question asked: How many jobs did Rmoney "create" while working his vulture capitalism magic?

    MVI's weak response is basically "buh-buh-buh-but Bain has lots of employees with jobs because of Rmoney!" Which doesn't answer the initial question. At all. This is the typical diversion of a trained disinfo artist, as I suspect her to be. Anyway, the idiocy is that she or anyone else thinks that an organization's record is justified merely because it "employees lots of people." Guess what? So do the drug cartels. So do street gangs. Yet their wrongs are not excused by this. Here, however, Rmoney's wrongs with Bain, in terms of shafting workers, pigging out on corporate welfare and then dumping pension obligations on the US taxpayer are waved away with a haughty "Bain has lots of employees!" So what?

    Again, the real question being ignored and also deliberately avoided here is how many jobs can Rmoney claim to have created NOT at Bain but at those companies he was allegedly "rescuing" (aka "pillaging")? C'mon righties, can't answer the question?

    June 2, 2012 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  23. PTBarnumboy

    What is all the fuss? Mittens did a "sterling" job of making himself and his partners rich. That is what they were hoping for after all isn't it? Al Capone did the same thing.

    June 2, 2012 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  24. FactChecker

    The Bain issue is a distraction. Romney would have let the U.S. auto industry die just to test his economic theories. I've had enough of those neo-con economic theories. Remember Phil "Imaginary recession" Gramm? He didn't think there was anything fundamentally wrong with the economy 5 years ago. The neo-cons have been very quiet since then, but they will come sneaking back when they think it's safe again.

    June 2, 2012 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  25. Gurgyl

    Tax cuts never proved any fruitful results, Reagan trickle down thought rich create jobs here, instead they took tax cuts here shipped jobs overseas, Bush did the same. The best solution is raise taxes on 250k or more earners, reduce defense spending–Iraq pull out is saving a lot..yes, obama12.

    June 2, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
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